Spotlight Newsletter | Message from Katelyn to teens in the YNHPH

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“Life will get better…I know because I’ve been there.”

NINETEEN-YEAR-OLD KATELYN knows how tough it can be to struggle with mental illness. Her anxiety and depression became so severe that she was unable to manage her mental health symptoms on her own.

“I hope the patients found it just as helpful as I did. I want them to keep holding on, no matter how dark it gets. And I want them to know there are people out there thinking about them. Like me.”

That’s when she was first admitted to the Yale New Haven Psychiatric Hospital Adolescent Unit. There, she received a combination of treatments that got her back on track.

One of the challenges she faced in the hospital was trying to find ways to keep herself busy. “I needed a way to distract myself from what was going on inside my head.” When a nurse asked her to make a list of things she could do to occupy herself, she came up with the idea of jigsaw puzzles.

The next day, her mom brought her a puzzle, and she dove in. Soon her roommate joined her too. They discovered that working on puzzles strengthened their coping skills. “Puzzles distracted me from what was going on inside my head,” she says. “It was such a great activity for us.”

Katelyn wanted other teens in the hospital to have the same tools for distraction and skill building that worked so well for her. So last December, when the holidays rolled around, she organized her family and friends to collect puzzles to give as holiday gifts.

Together, they collected over 70 puzzles and gifts, and made cards with inspiring quotes for every patient that received one.

Katelyn, your kindness made the holidays so much nicer for adolescents who really needed a bright moment. We are so proud of you!

Do you have a Creative Giving idea? There are so many ways to show our patients that you care—
and they don’t all involve cash donations! If you have an out-of-the-box idea you’d like to try, please let us know at or 203-688-9644—and we’ll do our best to help!

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